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Published by membersonly, 2018-03-30 03:34:24

1280iExtra23

6th May 2017

May 2017 BLNI Extra No. 23 –Cuba

[C47] Cuba - Slow Train to Guantanamo Report 17 February – 2 March 2017
PTG had warned that Cuban tours are never likely to go exactly to plan and this one, with more national
rail network travel than attempted before, required the assistance of previous contacts and some
remarkable railway operational flexibility on a few occasions!
Day 1: The visit commenced with a walking tour around Havana with the local guide who was to
beneficially stay with the group throughout the two weeks, then the shadowing coach to the Harbour
where a tiny SG 0-4-2T built 1878 by Baldwin, no 1112 was in steam on around 400m of old dock line in
between the road and footpath alongside the waterfront, and close to a very convenient new brewpub.

SG 0-4-2T no 1112, ex Ruben Martinez Villena Sugar Mill built 1878 by Baldwin on the Harbour Line in Havana on 17 February 2017

Four other steam engines were displayed nearby and a bride must have appreciated the engine appearing
regularly in the background of her wedding photographs although not the smuts on her white dress!
Day 2: Proper railway travel started today with the first charter of the ‘new to Cuba in 1957’ Canadian built
Budd RDC-1's RDC-1 70 seat and very comfortable railcar 2301. It left from what is believed to be a
temporary station of Havana La Coubreand, not from the 1912 built and now National Monument Estacion
Central which is closed for refurbishment until Summer 2018. This meant that the railcar would use the
ground level tracks directly underneath the noteworthy elevated metal viaduct route from Central which

remains in use as access to Havana carriage sidings. The hi-line was promised on the return to Havana 11
days later, but as described later, events conspired against. This journey would take the group 33km
through western suburbs and the line on the north side of the airport, as the line to the south of the
airport has now closed, then through Rincónto and the photogenic small station of Bejucal, the terminus of
the first railway opened in Cuba in 1837.

Budd railcar 2301 at Bejucal in South of Havana suburbs on 18 February 2017. The upper floor of the station building is a small
museum as this was the terminus of the first Railway opened in Cuba in 1837.

The group should also have visited the Cristina Railway Museum en route but it is also currently closed, so
after Bejucal the coach took them to view the engine shed at the, closed since 2013, Parque Lenin NG
railway, where despite appearances, staff were suggesting tourist services would resume around the 3
stop and purpose built 9.5km circuit later in 2017. Next was the Cuba Expo exhibition site which used to be
at the end of an FCC passenger branch, but now the rail interest is just two coaches in use as a restaurant
and, bizarrely, an obviously imported railbus built as recently as July 2016 which must have been moved
there by road. This had posters of the Ferrocarriles de Cuba (FCC) recently ordered Russian diesels.
Day 3: A highlight for many as it included a ride on the world famous Hershey Electric Railway, although
they were advised beforehand that their only remaining Brill EMU was no longer in service. The journey
followed a tour of the old dockside Havana Club Rum Distillery plus a nearby Cigar Rolling demonstration.
The Hershey is reached by a 6 minute ferry ride across the Harbour to its starting station of Casa Blanca

which is adjacent to the east side jetty, and of note was all luggage being examined before boarding as
some years ago a ferry had been hijacked on a failed attempt to reach Miami! PTG phone calls the day
before had confirmed the full 3 pairs a day service from Casa Blanca to Matanzas was running so it was a
major disappointment to find out that a freight train had derailed earlier that morning with services
terminating 25km short at Canasi. Making it worse the PTG coach could not get there due to poor road
access, so that meant they would be met at Hershey,an additional 28km short of Canasi. This is where the
first Plan B came to fruition, and what an alternative it was! One of the party had visited the Hershey on
numerous occasions so was aware of a totally separate and more frequent service from a different station
near Hershey named Calle 7, (located alongside the systems Depot and workshops) to Jaruco. So the PTG
Organiser contacted the railway and explained their interest in riding this branch if they could not travel by
train to Matanzas. The relevant person understood, confirmed a train was scheduled just after their
booked arrival time in Hershey and even agreed to hold its departure until they arrived in the coach!

The Hershey Electric Railways’ unique single car 707, ex Ex-Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain leaving Jaruco
on a service to Calle 7 on 19 February 2017. The latter station is alongside the systems Depot and the closed Hershey Sugar Mill but
this line has no passenger interchange with the rest of the Hershey system. The line has a service of eight pairs a day, even the
Hershey “main” line from Casa Blanca to Matanzas line is only three pairs...

All worked as hoped, and the service left nearly 10 minutes late with the whole group aboard. This
electrified branch was a delight. Basically it was a (very) Light Railway, and all agreed experiencing this
13km line in its single coach EMU was probably better than if they could have travelled to Matanzas! The

coach then took them to an Atlantic Beach Resort for the night, your reporter enjoying a dusk swim in the
very warm sea.
Day 4: A short coach ride took the group to the first visit to a “preserved” ex-Sugar Mill with a tourist
steam service where PTG had arranged their own charter, the train running empty to meet them at the far
end of their normal run at Cardenas. Some but not all of these steam services have permission to run on
parts of the national Cuban rail network and this particular one terminates at the well-known location
where the steam engine runs through an arch attached to Cardenas FCC station onto a short street running
section of a now disused Port branch. Haulage was by 2-6-0 1518, a Vulcan built in 1916, and after a
number of run pasts at the arch and en-route including one off the main line and around a corner into a
wagon works yard, the special still reached the junction into the ex-Jose Smith Comas Mill before the
agreed time.

1916 Vulcan built 2-6-0 1518 of the Jose Smith Comas Mill at Cardenas on 20 February 2017. The building is the town’s active railway
station at the end of a branch from Jovellanos and the Mill Museum’s trains run through this arch to terminate in the adjacent street.

So the train manager agreed to a request to go further up the FCC line through Progreso station towards
Jovellanos until he judged it was time to stop and come back! After returning to and reversing at the Mill
junction the train was taken beyond the normal tourist pick up point to the shed access, to be followed by
a tour of the defunct Sugar Mill machinery plus its large collection of steam locos, and freshly squeezed
cane juice with white rum. The afternoon took them to another SG tourist steam train operation at the
former Australia Mill. This is a stand-alone enterprise with no other attractions and those that drove 2-6-0

Henschelno. 1716 built in 1913 considered it in poor condition, so this 3.5km long remnant of their own
tracks may be on its last legs. After again staying on the train to visit the shed beyond the normal
passenger ride the coach took them to their Santa Clara Hotel via that city’s Che Guevara Memorial, plus
the bullet ridden plinthed wagons of the armoured train attacked by his guerrillas in the final days of the
Batista rule.
Day 5: To the preserved Central Marcelo Salado Mill Museum for the fourth steam ride, again partly over
FCC tracks with Baldwin 2-6-0 1429 built in 1916 from the Mill to Remedios, which has a beautifully
maintained colonial style town square. The afternoon was fascinating even with no train ride as the Group
had a full guided tour of the still working Central Herberito Duquesne Sugar Mill, seeing the whole process
from tipping the, already cut into short lengths, sugar cane from rail wagons and road vehicles through
crushing, boiling, separating and drying the crystals from the molasses to a constant line of demerara sugar
appearing on a conveyor belt. What made it even more interesting is that this Mill still has an operational
3’ gauge railway bringing cane from nearby fields, with traction provided by British diesels from Brush in
Loughborough!

Brush built diesel 2722 at the 3’ gauge Central Heriberto Duquesne Sugar Mill on 21 February 2017. A laden Cane train
arrived from the right of the photographer and took a curve behind the signal box.

The group was also fortunate enough to see a laden train arrive from the fields across complicated
pointwork at the triangular junction near the Mill, but at the Mill itself the wagons were pulled to the

unloading point by cable and empties individually gravity shunted away with a brakeman! Overnight was in
Sancti Spiritus.
Day6: The day should have started with a scheduled service train from Sancti Spiritus at 09:30, but arrival
at the station found it retimed to 10:30.… This Zaza del Medio to Tunas de Zaza service pleasingly arrived
as a locomotive with coaches, coaches being a notional term as they all seemed to be based on box vans
with longitudinal benches and windows cut into their sides.
The group were all allocated seats in the first coach, and on boarding it was clear they were to be the only
passengers in it, Railway Police ensuring it was just for them even though the rest of the train was full and
standing. Unfortunately they had to alight at Guasimal and not the end of the branch on the Caribbean
coast as the road from there to their next call at the 16km tourist railway from Iznaga was again unsuitable
for a coach. This SG line to/from Trinidad was known to be unreliable, but calls confirmed it was running
and a Soviet Built TU7 Diesel of a design encountered on sand and peat railways in the Ukraine and the
Baltic States on a very full 3 coach train took them down very steep gradients to Trinidad (on terrible track
with countless broken or missing sleepers) through a cloudburst. It had been hoped to travel onwards
from Trinidad to the nearby docks at Casildaon, a small railbus known to be working a service in 2016, but
despite it being parked on the nearby shed, from the lack of grooves in dirt at level crossings it had not run
for some time so they had to make do with just 0.5km extra on the train whilst it continued to this shed
and reversed into a siding. The party returned to Sancti Spiritus after a walking tour of the UNESCO listed
Central Trinidad.
Day 7: From here on would involve much more train travel as the chartered Budd railcar was now at Sancti
Spritus. The day started with a huge surprise, as walking onto the station they discovered another railcar
parked in front of theirs, no less than an ex DR piglet taxi!

Fated FCC 4221 ex DR 771 028 8 Ferkeltaxi at Zaza del Medio with PTG’s Budd Railcar 2301 on 23 February 2017

This was working the Sancti Spritus - Zaza del Medio – Siguaney service and gave the group its first
experience of the relaxed approach to train pathing in Cuba as the train crew simply applied for a path
controlled by “ticket” when the PTG representative told them we were ready to depart, i.e. not timetabled
per se. The Tour Leader had phoned the crew from the hotel to tell them the group was on the way to do
exactly that but they did not advise that if they arrived before 09:15 they could be given priority over the
railbus. As they hadn’t they were now stuck behind this 09:20 all stations departure. There is an
unfortunate postscript regarding this piglet taxi no 4221 as the next day it was involved in a head-on
collision with a loaded sugar cane train near Sancti Spritus, 6 died and over 50 were injured with an on-line
newspaper article implying the railbus driver did not have authority for the section.
http://www.escambray.cu/2017/en-fotos-el-lugar-de-la-colision/
http://www.escambray.cu/2017/ingresados-todavia-11-lesionados-de-accidente-ferroviario-en-sancti-spiritus/
Their railcar took them 86km to Ciego de Ovila, a station with an E/W, N/S flat crossing bisecting the E/W
platform, and three connecting curves. Of course the missing E to N would be of use as there are a pair of
scheduled Camaguey – Moron through services, so it is suspected these would reverse via the E to S or W
to N curves.

Ciego de Ovila station on 23 February 2017 with the platform towards Moron on the left at right angles to the
signal box, with its north south track bisecting the east west platform. Most train lengths are short enough so
this is not a problem, but the Havana to Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba services would stop across it.

Their railcar was not permitted to travel over the line from here to Moron due to condition of track so the
coach took them there via viewing the FCC railway operations at the working Sugar Mill at Ciro Redondo,
plus their last museum Mill with a tourist steam operation. This was again over a remnant of the Mills own

lines, so the group enjoyed 5km and numerous runpasts with 2-8-0 Steam 1658 built by Baldwin in 1920
from the Central Patria O’Muerte Mill. They had lost time ever since the delayed departure from Sancti
Spiritus which meant they could not make their booked slot to visit the FCC shed and workshops at Moron,
but after phone calls by PTG, FCC were happy to re-arrange this for those keen enough to do so for 07:00
the following morning.
Day 8: So, an early start for the workshop visit viewing various withdrawn stock of Canadian, French,
Finnish and Russian origin. As expected no M62’s (none seen anywhere on the island although there is one
allegedly in the closed Havana Railway Museum) or the long withdrawn class 47 clones (all scrapped years
ago apparently). Then by coach to Gaspar further east on the main line avoiding the town of Ciego de
Ovila, (with the gap to be done on the return to Havana), and onwards with the railcar to Las Tunas. The
itinerary and train crew instructions included the privatelyoperated branch from there to Manati, but
some in the party with Cuban travel experience doubted this would happen, or if it did that the railcar
might derail due to track condition as per a 2016 visit. This 46km long line was visited successfully with a
pilotman, but the return trip took 4 hrs and was not without incident. The railcar swayed wildly in parts,
encountered a still attached power line stanchion support cable lying across the track (a workman simply
pulled it tight so they could go underneath], then a draisine heading towards them with their railcarhaving
to reverse 0.5km to allow it to reach a level crossing where it could be manhandled off the track.
Approaching Manati they were delaying a southbound service, so it was alarming to see a railbus heading
towards them on the same track. Fortunately, what looked as basic as a bus converted to run on rails shot
into a siding leading into the depot…… to reverse onto the branch the moment they passed by, a neat trick
to gain a few minutes, but worrying operationally!!

Private and crush loaded Railbus reversing out of Manati Depot siding on 24 February 2017 the
moment the late running tour railcar had cleared the points!

The group’s Cuban experts had mentioned the possibility of additional private services radiating off this
line and shiny rails at junctions and another railbus arriving at Manati from the Puerto Manati direction,
potentially a further 18km northeast, but oddly just after the southbound service had left, confirmed this.
Almost all Cuban branches have turning “Y’s”, Manati was no exception and their railcar used this on
departure, but after a N to E curve to a headshunt, rather than being a straightforward triangle it
continued asa flat crossing with the arrivals line to the other side of a defunct sugar mill and ManatiDepot
(visit arranged) so did not rejoin the inbound route for a total of nearly 1½km! Then despite having been
turned, on arrival at Las Tunas the railcar took a N to E curve and so needed to reverse to reach the station
due to a lengthy freight train occupying the outbound W to N curve. All that remained this day was to
travel to their hotel right on the Atlantic coast, which was an hour’s coach journey beyond their train
destination of Holguin, the end of a branch from Cacocum. As expected they took the W to N curve
avoiding Cacocum station but then reversed via the N to E curve to the station platform. This was assumed
to be to allow a freight to pass. Retracing their steps from Holguin two days later and booked to head east,
they unfortunately took the N to W curve to reverse as the direct curve was blocked by a loco hauled PW
train. They could see where they had stopped previously and it was literally a few yards short of overlap.

Day 9: The major disappointment of the trip. Two separate am and pm charters, one with steam, had been
lined up on parts of the nearby, still passenger, NG lines radiating east and west from the long-closed
Rafael Frayre Sugar Mill as this gave an option of staying in the beach resort. These lines are still running as
they go deep into the hills which do not have decent road access and previous phone calls had not
revealed any problems, but on arrival the staff were adamant that nothing was arranged as they claimed
not to have received payment for this or even PTG’s previous visit. As with everything else paid for by PTG
in Cuba, they have to arrange all visits through Government Agents, so they were assured the money had
been paid and the problem was somewhere else in the chain. In addition the 1882 Baldwin built steam
engine was undergoing a boiler washout, so Plan B for those who had opted for the morning visit was to
get tickets on a scheduled service departing at 11:00 for La Sierra. This was further than the charter had
potentially been reaching but the railway claimed it was fully booked. A timetabled railcar then arrived,
and it was agreed they could have a short ride on this to the nearby “Y” and back. Everybody assumed this
was because it needed to be turned to form the 11:00 service, so they were puzzled when it only traversed
2 sides of the “Y” twice, a journey of about 1.2km in total.

Budd Railcar 2301 waiting on elongated Manati “Y” whilst the Tour Group had a walk to the nearby Depot on 24 February 2017

Negotiations by PTG continued whilst a steady stream of passengers arrived which quickly confirmed that
even the reduced morning group size had no chance of travelling on the 11:00 departure. In fact ticket
holders were called forward by ticket number and it left full and crush load standing. By now PTG had even
offered to pay “again” in cash for a charter later the same day, and the railways’ attitude changed saying
they had no spare train, so all that could be arranged was a short 4km spin to ensure that the railbus was
back at Rafael Frayre in time for its next working at 15:10 to Jobal. This was agreed to by PTG, but your
correspondent did not wish to wait2 hours for that offered departure time, so went back to the hotel on
the coach to both seek out those in the tour group only opting for the afternoon steam special regarding
the change of plans and enjoyed the all-inclusive beach resort instead, ticking off a bucket list entry of
snorkelling as his alternative! It later transpired the Plan C charter covered 9km, but such is life!

Day 10: Coach to Holguin to rejoin the FCC Budd Railcar via Cacocum (reverse) to stop at Julio A Mella,
another busy working and SG connected Sugar Cane Mill, but they were only allowed to witness wagon
unloading and not rail shunting. Rejoining the railcar, the surprise was the Central main line becoming
double track (with right hand running) for the first time 780 km east of Havana and continuing through San
Luis Combinados (a five way junction) to Cuba’s second city, the Caribbean port of Santiago de Cuba (km
835). Approaching their destination for that day the line drops appreciably to reach the coast and has
runaway protection sidings on both tracks. At Santiago de Cuba they were greeted with the pleasing sight

of a “preserved” Hershey EMU which apparently was brought there to work a shuttle service on a specially
electrified docks line as part of the city’s 400th anniversary celebrations in 2015. A short city tour by coach
followed, with time for those who wished to explore further on foot.

Day 11: This day proved how flexible Ferrocarriles de Cuba can be on three separate occasions! The railcar
was not allowed to travel uphill unassisted from Santiago de Cuba, so as a previous tours a workaround of
topping it with a diesel hadn’t gone to plan either, they were to rejoin the railcar at San Luis Combinados.
But their coach driver found out on the way that there were road works preventing him getting to that
station, so they unexpectedly arrived at the nearby San Luis station, the first stop on the back route via
Bayamo. PTG had simply phoned the railcar crew who checked with Control and ‘no problema’, just stay at
San Luis and we will come and collect you! The plan today was the 77 km line to Guantanamo, again not
without incident as the railcar hit a horse en-route, (to go with the goat and dog hit elsewhere…….).
Guantanamo has a fascinating railway layout. It is a dead end station with a 90⁰ flat crossing at the end of
the platforms with only straight on access, so most services require one reversal, some even two on
nearby curves to reach the station. PTG had chartered a locally based Brill DMU to take the group onwards
to the branch end of Caimanera for lunch in a hotel overlooking Guntanamo Bay and the infamous USA
Military base, but they were advised on arrival that this had failed to start. No problem though, a Russian
Built BR class 142 lookalike DMU was spare but the group was then advised that they could not get to
Caimanera by train as the last section was closed for track works! So forty minutes after their arrival they
were on the way to somewhere, with a double reversal required outside Guantanamo station at both ends
of an E to N curve to reach the branch which runs down the side of a street with houses on both sides
named “La Linea” for its first km! Rural countryside soon appeared which quickly changed to salt flats for
mile upon mile with the railway on a causeway, passing a branch to a salt factory with active rail traffic.
After 18.5km the train stopped in the middle of nowhere, and on looking ahead they could see that they
were right behind a wagon full of rails, with gangers laying track just in front of that, plus their coach as the
main road to Caimanera was nearby!

Caimanera branch - They shall not pass..... Charter stopping point 3km from branch end, 27 February 2017

They were frustratingly 3km short of the branch end. Your reporter had noticed another issue on the way
down, in as much as their DMU was pulling a non-driving trailer and now had no access to anywhere to
turn it, so there were hopes the work might finish and the train could move forward to reach the “Y” at
Caimanera whilst they were at lunch. This was not to be as the coach returned to where they had got off
the train to find a third DMU car had arrived whilst we were away. From the coach they could clearly see
the fences marking US territory but the camp itself was on the other side of the bay, and the local Guide
we needed to reach our Hotel through a Cuban checkpoint declined requests to stop to view Pelicans
sitting on posts and flamingos in the salt lagoons advising photography here was prohibited. Back on the
train your correspondent hatched a plan as his phone App map suggested you could avoid repeating the
double reversal into Guantanamo station by continuing in a circle of about 8km around the town. Phrasing
his request carefully around the disappointment of not being able to reach Caimanera by train whilst the
train reversed to collect someone’s hat blown off in the wind, he asked the train crew through the tour
guide if doing this loop might be possible, and they agreed! They also had a photo stop on the street
section, so an excellent day all round, returning to Santiago de Cuba on their coach.

Day 12: From here on it was simply two days on the Budd Railcar back to Havana, or so they thought. The
railcar had to be summoned to San Luis again, but then it was all via the Central main line as even the
hardened track-bashers in the group conceded it would take too long to travel via the itinerary suggested
back route via Bayamo, and this was proved by leaving San Luis at 09:45 and not reaching Santa Clara 530
km away until 21:15.

Day 13: Leaving Santa Clara at 08.55 it was hoped to reach Havana (278km away) by mid-afternoon, but
ominous loud knocking noises came from the railcar engine on departing from Jovellanos. They were still
140km from Havana on track not covered before and the verdict after limping back to the station was a
terminal transmission failure. Plan B was the 3 days a week train from Santiago de Cuba to Havana due

shortly behind them, but this was apparently running ten hours late, so the luggage carrying shadowing
coach was called to collect the party. Of the group of 35, perhaps surprisingly only a few were keen to
explore other ways of getting to Havana by train and made enquiries about freight trains as they all had
cabooses, but none were due. All that can be reported as requested by the Cuban Rail Authorities is that
three of the group including your correspondent managed to get to Havana by train, but not how they did
it.

[C48] Cuba – A summary of rail travel in Cuba
Itisdifficult and bureaucratic to travel even the main lines in Cuba, and it would be extremely time
consuming to do the lines radiating off the over 1,400km east-west rail network. All long distance services
to/from Havana are believed to be just one pair on three days a week with lengthy parts of the journey
overnight (longest example Havana depart 18:30 – Guantanamo arrive 12:38 next day, return at 08:50
booked to arrive Havana 03:12), and local services from junctions are exactly that, they do not appear to
be co-ordinated with the main line, probably no bad thing as long distance punctuality is horrendous. You
also have to pay for everything in the country in tourist only Cuban convertible peso which is fixed at 25
times the local peso,with rail tickets purchased from different outlets than locals, (although allegedly you
do seem to get priority over locals to buy them). On board ticket purchase at major stations is impossible
as access to trains is controlled through gates but this does not apply at local stations. For example Calle 7
to Jaruco on the Hershey railway with eight pairs a day has a flat fare of 40 cents, around 33p in tourist
convertible pesos or the equivalent of 1.3p if you could manage to pay in locals money. (Fyi, the tourist
convertible peso has a denomination of a 3 note!).
In many stations there were no timetable details, and no FCC website to look them up, or if there was
information it was a blackboard with “cancelado” frequently against something. For example when the
tour charter failed to reach Caimanera due to engineering works, the normal four pairs a day were all
cancelled and no alternative transport provided. So an organised tour such as PTG’s has its attraction and
this was a fascinating and enjoyable experience. Fyi, a few in our party had been to Cuba over a dozen
times before and came again as they thought the railcar might not be available for much longer as it is
already maintained by, and any work required is paid for, by the regular train crew themselves and not
FCC, using the tip money received from tour participants!
Operationally the railway is run by “tickets” issued for sections by station staff, with all points apart from in
very few places manually changed by the train crews. This led to a first for your correspondent, as if the
railcar was the first to approach a booked passing point, it would stop before the loop points to see which
track the second train took before proceeding.
The obvious difference in wealth between tourists and the locals (who still rely on rationing fora
proportion of food staples at low and heavily subsidised prices each month) is apparently not an issue.
There were very few impressions given of a “them and us” mentality and no problems in exploring
individually. The main tourist spots/resorts already see many Americans and the recent and expanding
tourism industry must be giving a huge boost to their economy. To best illustrate the money angle, the
station master where the railcar broke down offered the group coffee, they offered her 1 Tourist Peso
(around 83p) to discover this to be the equivalent of one weeks’ wages…… her salary from the
Government having been reduced recently by 50% due “to a lack of trains”. With that in mind, freight
trains on the island were a puzzle. There were more towards the east of the island, i.e. further away from
Havana, excluding those associated with sugar cane which were seen without being that frequent and

were of a much more local nature. Six freights were seen heading east on Tuesday travelling from San Luis
Combinados to Santa Clara, but from Santa Clara to Havana the next day, not a single passenger, freight or
light engine was passed in a distance of 280km.
Overall westernisation is still some way off but things are slowly modernising, especially around tourism.
The well-known old cars are still plentiful but under the bonnet are “Triggers Broom” in many cases and
down to around 50% in major centres. The further away you get from Havana the more horse drawn
transport abounds, even as taxis, and local buses become contraptions bolted onto lorry chassis, with very
few camellos seen, (lorries pulling trailers). So all in all if you want to sample old style Cuba and its railways
it may be better to go sooner rather than later.

[C49] Cuba – Planned railway projects
On 9 March the Cuban Government announced a Railway Modernisation Project costed at 1 Billion Euros
including upgrade and modernisation of the Linea Central from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, plus Santa
Clara-Cienfuegos, the Havana suburban lines including from 19 de November, Havana to Navajas (Linea
Sur) and the Montalvo Branch which links Navajas with Jovellanos (Linea Central). This includes the
construction of a direct rail link between Havana and the tourist hotel hotspot of Varadero (which PTG
stayed in and is a string of huge beach resorts on a peninsula stretching out 20km into the Atlantic),
including connections from Havana and Varadero airports, all to be completed by 2030. On the latter,
feasibility studies are underway looking at either using the Linea Central to Matanzas with a new branch to
Varadero, or using and upgrading parts of the Hershey railway.Russian finance appears to be involved and
RZD International will be in the lead on the works with the contract to be signed in November although
FCC can allegedly start some of the preparatory works.
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1489056942_29516.html
Also 588 new freight wagons have already or will be delivered to the Island by RM Rail of Russia by the end
of this year.


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